Heaven Upside Down

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Heaven Upside Down
Marilyn Manson - Heaven Upside Down.png
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 6, 2017 (2017-10-06)
StudioAbattoir Studios, Studio City, California
ProducerTyler Bates
Marilyn Manson chronology
The Pale Emperor
Heaven Upside Down
Singles from Heaven Upside Down
  1. "We Know Where You Fucking Live"
    Released: September 11, 2017
  2. "Kill4Me"
    Released: September 20, 2017

Heaven Upside Down is the tenth studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released on October 6, 2017 by Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline International. The record was originally due for release on Valentine's Day, and had a working title of Say10. However, its release was delayed, principally due to the eponymous vocalist being unhappy with the quality of the record by that date, and also because of the band's touring commitments and producer Tyler Bates' schedule scoring films, as well as the death of Manson's father during production, to whom the album was later dedicated.

The album was recorded by many of the same musicians who performed on The Pale Emperor, including Bates and Gil Sharone. The band's longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez did not take part in recording sessions, despite Manson initially suggesting otherwise. Twiggy was dismissed from the band soon after the record's release, following sexual assault allegations made against him by a former girlfriend. He was replaced on subsequent tour dates by Juan Alderete. The Heaven Upside Down Tour has seen the band's vocalist injured on multiple occasions: he fractured his ankle after jumping off a stage, and was later crushed by a large stage prop. The latter incident resulted in the rescheduling of an entire leg of the tour.

"We Know Where You Fucking Live" was issued as the lead single on September 11. This was followed on September 20 by "Kill4Me", which went on to become the band's highest-peaking single ever on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart. Four music videos have been released, for the two aforementioned singles, as well as "Say10" and "Tattooed in Reverse". Two of these music videos have featured actor Johnny Depp. The record received positive reviews from music critics upon release, with several publications claiming it continued the creative resurgence which began with their previous album. It was also successful commercially, debuting at number eight on the Billboard 200, and was the band's highest-charting album in over a decade in several territories, such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

This was the last album to feature Sharone, who departed the band after its release.

Background and recording[edit]

The band's eponymous vocalist announced on KEGL in November 2015 that he, Twiggy, Gil Sharone, and Tyler Bates had begun work on the follow-up to 2015's The Pale Emperor.[6] Seven months later, during an interview with Ryan J. Downey at the APMAs, he revealed several details about the forthcoming record, such as a tentative Valentine's Day release date, along with its working title, Say10.[7][8] He later explained that the title originated from a hand-written note found in his twelfth-grade workbook from GlenOak High School, near Canton, Ohio.[9] As with The Pale Emperor, Manson and Bates worked on the record while the latter was composing score material for the American television series Salem,[10] the third season of which featured Manson as a recurring cast member.[11][12] Parts of the album were recorded in Louisiana where Manson was filming scenes for the series.[13]

The vocalist was doubtful if Bates would agree to work with him again, considering The Hell Not Hallelujah Tour saw relations between the two deteriorate to where Manson threatened the guitarist on-stage with a box-cutter knife.[14] Bates said the incident stemmed from Manson "breaking beer bottles so he could cut himself, but the shards of glass were hitting our drummer Gil. I got really pissed and told him to stop with the fucking glass. ... so he like, kicked a [bottle] and it hit me on stage and I'd just had enough. I said, 'What the fuck?'. So instead of the bottle, he pulls out a box cutter and says 'You want me to cut you open with this box cutter, Tyler Bates?' I said, 'You fucking come near me and I'll kill you with that box cutter!'" Bates renamed his music publishing company Box Cutter Music in honor of the incident.[15]

Despite initially suggesting that Twiggy would contribute to recording sessions, it was later confirmed that the band's longtime bassist would not feature on the album, although he did attend sessions in Bates' recording studio in Studio City. After listening to pre-recorded basslines performed by Bates, Twiggy responded by indicating he would be unable to "play them any better, and that the record sounded great [as it was]", according to Manson.[16] On May 8, 2017, Manson revealed the album had been renamed Heaven Upside Down and said its recording had been completed.[17]

Composition and style[edit]

"Two decades on and ten albums down, Manson remains the same icon in a different realm, one that he's warned us about his whole career. 2017 is heaven upside down: a nightmarish, capitalist landscape of broken promises that we're constantly reassured is what we asked for. A world of uncertainty, with endless possibility sitting alongside ever-growing restriction, reality TV becoming reality... becoming president. "I'm not a ghost", Manson screams on the album's title track. And isn't that what we're all worried about right now—that we're either invisible, or nearly dead?"

Dazed writer Thomas Gorton on the underlying concept behind Heaven Upside Down.[18]

Manson initially described Say10 as being a departure musically from The Pale Emperor, and said it would be more similar to the band's earlier work, particularly Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, but "with a new, different approach." He described it as being "pretty violent in its nature for some reason, and it's not emotional in the same way [as The Pale Emperor]. It's got a chip on its shoulder."[10] He also called it "by far the most thematic and over-complicated thing that I've done",[19] adding that it contained some of his most politically-charged lyrics.[20] Manson described Heaven Upside Down as a hard rock and punk rock album in the vein of Killing Joke, Joy Division, Bauhaus, and David Bowie's Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).[14] "We Know Where You Fucking Live" was the first song Manson and Bates recorded for the album.[15]

The pair largely improvised during their writing sessions. Bates said that songs would be created "out of a conversation, essentially, just between [Manson] and I, and we make it pretty much on the spot. It's me making music right from my head, and the lyrics are developed by Manson right there in the studio with me."[21] The vocalist described the collaborative process between the two as being "a very intimate, personal experience. ... We sit across from each other, with headphones on, we look each other in the eye when we're writing."[22] Manson opted not to record his vocals from inside a vocal booth, instead recording them while sitting at Bates' mixing console;[22] the majority of vocals on the album were recorded in single takes, with minimal overdubbing.[23] Bates also sought to factor in the band's live performances into the material,[24] and described the album as "intense, fun and violent. It's more immediate than The Pale Emperor, much more aggressive, and definitely much more imbued with Manson's fucked-up humor."[21] He also said:

The vocalist called the album his "most precise and well-thought-out work",[9] and compared its lyrics to those of Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), noting that the majority of lyrics on both releases were initially written in prose format.[22] Lyrical themes and subject matter on the record range from politics, violence, sex and romance,[23] chaos and isolation,[24] and capitalism, religion, drugs, paranoia, fear and mental illness.[25] Manson has described it as a concept album, and contrasted it with The Pale Emperor by saying: "The last album was Faust, Mephistopheles. For me, this would be Pilgrim's Progress".[26] He later denied that the political lyrical content related to the election of Donald Trump, saying that most of the lyrics were written before the 2016 US presidential election.[22] He had indicated he would not be voting in that election, explaining: "I don't think that, as an artist, I can make as much of a difference voting as I can the commentaries I make in music".[27] Manson also said that the title of "Revelation #12" was a reference to both the Book of Revelation and the Beatles' "Revolution 9".[9]

Release and artwork[edit]

The album was not released on Valentine's Day.[28] Manson later explained that its release was delayed by several factors, including Bates' schedule scoring films,[18] the vocalist being unhappy with the quality of the record by that date,[29] as well as the death of his father Hugh Warner on July 7, 2017, to whom Heaven Upside Down is dedicated.[22] Bates has also said that recording was delayed due to the band's touring schedule; the pair had completed just six songs before beginning a North American co-headlining tour with Slipknot in the summer of 2016.[30] A further three tracks on the album were recorded sometime after Valentine's Day: "Revelation #12", "Saturnalia" and "Heaven Upside Down",[29] with the album's name then being changed to the latter song title.[9] Manson elaborated on its meaning, saying: "I was going to call the record SAY10, but I didn't feel that that defined the album. I had the lyrics written for the song 'Heaven Upside Down', and I thought that defined the record more so because of the idea of time as a flat circle, constellations being defined by the negative space—the blackness; the idea of looking at something from an opposite point of view."[23]

Manson was unaware of the severity of his father's terminal illness until two days before he died,[31] the same day the band finished recording the final song written for the album, "Saturnalia".[22] The track is eight minutes long,[32] and contains numerous astrological and mythological references, specifically the astrological transit of SaturnSaturn return – and the myth of Saturnus devouring his children.[18] Manson conflated his father's death with the song's lyrical content, saying: "Seeing my father dying, I felt like that was the circle of life that he'd want me to put the energy of death into rebirth, you know, the snake eating its own tail, Saturnalia, Saturninus, that whole concept."[23]

Prior to the album's eventual release, Manson posted a series of videos on Instagram.[33] The first of these, posted on March 22, 2017, was captioned "6:19. The time has come."[34] Numerous publications hypothesized whether 6:19 referred to a June 19 release date, a Bible verse, or the lyrics to the Eat Me, Drink Me track "If I Was Your Vampire".[28][35] Further videos featured air-raid sirens and distant screaming,[36] a hooded figure,[37][38] and the Celebritarian Cross[39]—an inverted variation on the Cross of Lorraine which had been previously used by Manson as a logo for his Celebritarian art movement in 2005; the symbol subsequently appeared on the Heaven Upside Down album cover.[9]

The record was released worldwide on October 6.[40] The album's lyric booklet was printed on Bible paper, with the lyrics also formatted to resemble biblical text.[41] The record was mastered by Brian Lucey,[41] the engineer who masters the majority of Bates' soundtrack work. He was chosen because, according to Manson, the album contains "some extreme experiments with sound. We were very particular in not allowing someone else to master it, who might accidentally eliminate them. We've got some very intense, alchemical, scientific, binaural sounds that sometimes even make me have a panic attack while I'm listening to it."[22] These sounds are most prevalent in the title track and "Saturnalia", which Manson highlighted as centerpieces of the record.[42] Japanese editions of the album contain a Mystery Skulls remix of "Kill4Me" as a bonus track.[43]

Promotion and singles[edit]

On the day of the 2016 US presidential election – November 8 – the band released a short teaser clip of a new video, "Say10".[44] The video was created by Final Girl director Tyler Shields.[45] It featured images of Manson brandishing a bloodstained knife while standing above a decapitated corpse lying in a pool of blood. Numerous publications noted the corpse was dressed in similar clothing to the kind regularly worn by Donald Trump—a suit and red tie.[46][47][48] Manson would later say that the decapitated figure in the video "wasn’t anyone except if you wanted it to be them."[9] The band, which initially included Manson on vocals with Bates and Paul Wiley on electric guitars, Twiggy on bass and Sharone on drums,[22] began the first leg of the Heaven Upside Down Tour on July 20 in Budapest,[49] during which they debuted several new songs.[50] The band narrowly avoided injury in Moscow when their tour bus was involved in a collision with a semi-trailer truck.[21] Manson caused controversy in Eastern Europe when he referenced the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and told a crowd in Kiev: "You just made Moscow sound like your bitch".[51]

The band's cover of Ministry's "Stigmata" was released on July 28 when it appeared on the soundtrack to Atomic Blonde.[52] "We Know Where You Fucking Live" was released as the album's lead single on September 11, after it premiered on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 show.[53] Its music video was directed by Bill Yukich and Perou,[54] and was posted onto YouTube four days later.[55] "Kill4Me" was issued as the album's primary airplay single in the United States, where it went on to become the band's highest peaking single ever on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.[56] A series of advertisements created by Canadian pop artist Alex Kazemi to promote the album on Instagram were leaked online in late September, but were deemed too graphic to be used on the image hosting service.[57] Subsequent music videos were released for "Say10" and "Kill4Me", which were both directed by Yukich and featured actor Johnny Depp.[58][59]

The North American leg of the Heaven Upside Down Tour began on September 27, and was scheduled to incorporate appearances by the band at several music festivals, including the Aftershock Festival on October 22,[60] at which Nine Inch Nails was also scheduled to appear. Manson indicated a possibility of joining that band on stage during the festival, after he and Trent Reznor mended a longstanding feud.[61] However, the tour has seen the vocalist be injured on several different occasions. On September 29 at Pittsburgh's Stage AE, he injured his ankle after jumping off the stage.[62] The following night, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, he was crushed by a large stage prop,[63] and lay unconscious on the stage for up to 15 minutes,[64] before being carried out of the venue on a stretcher to a nearby hospital.[65] The rest of the tour was later canceled,[66] including the band's appearance at Aftershock,[67] with all dates, excluding festival appearances, rescheduled to take place at the start of 2018.[68]

"In an era where mass shootings have become a nearly daily occurrence, this was an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement about how easily accessible semi-automatic weapons are, and how seeing them has become normalized. My performance was not meant to be disrespectful or show any insensitivity. ... My art has always been a reaction to popular culture, and my way to make people think about the horrible things that happen in this world. My empathy goes out to anyone who has been affected by the irresponsible and reprehensible misuse of real guns."

—Manson's statement in response to criticism made after his use of a replica assault rifle as a microphone during a concert.[69]

The band's founding guitarist, Daisy Berkowitz, died on October 22 at the age of 49. He had been diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in 2013.[70] Three days later, Manson announced that he had "decided to part ways" with Twiggy, after the latter had been accused of sexual assault by a former girlfriend, Jack Off Jill vocalist Jessicka Addams, while the pair were a couple in the mid-90s.[71][72] He was replaced on subsequent tour dates by former Racer X and the Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete.[73] Alderete's first show with the band, at the 2017 Ozzfest Meets Knotfest festival in San Bernardino on November 5, found Manson performing in a wheelchair as a result of injuries he sustained earlier in the tour.[74] Manson also attracted criticism from some publications after he used a replica assault rifle as a microphone during the concert, with some commentators arguing it was insensitive considering the city had previously been the subject of a terrorism-related attack,[75] and that the performance came just hours after a mass shooting in Texas, in which 24 people were killed.[76]

A cover of "God's Gonna Cut You Down", recorded during the Heaven Upside Down sessions,[31] was featured on the soundtrack to 24 Hours to Live, which was released through Varèse Sarabande on December 8.[77] A cover of David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" was also recorded, and is scheduled to appear on an unspecified soundtrack.[78] "Tattooed in Reverse" was serviced to active rock radio formats in the United States on March 6,[79] and peaked at number 35 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart.[56] A cover of Gerard McMahon's "Cry Little Sister" – recorded for the soundtrack of The New Mutants – was released in June; its music video was also directed by Yukich.[80] The band began a second co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie on July 11, titled "Twins of Evil: The Second Coming Tour", following the "Twins of Evil Tour" in 2012.[81] On the day the tour began, Zombie and Manson released their cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter", which featured former Manson band members John 5 and Ginger Fish.[82]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Album of the Year66/100[84]
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[85]
Alternative Press4/5 stars[2]
The Boston Globe4/5 stars[1]
Classic Rock3.5/5 stars[87]
Consequence of SoundB[88]
Drowned in Sound6/10[89]
NME3/5 stars[90]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[92]

The album was well received by music critics upon release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, it received an average score of 71, based on 15 reviews, indicating "generally positive reviews".[83] It also holds an aggregate score of 6.2 out of 10 at AnyDecentMusic?.[93]

Several publications said the album continued a creative resurgence which began with their previous release. AllMusic said: "If Pale Emperor was a welcome return to form that signaled a new day for the band, its successor is just as satisfying, if not better."[85] This sentiment was echoed by The Boston Globe writer Terrence Crawley, who wrote: "No one expected this band to be doing some of its best work 20 years after it first shook up the zeitgeist, but here it is, continuing to evolve while toning down its more dated or cartoonish aspects. It just goes to show that a good album beats a good scandal every time."[1] Bloody Disgusting referred to it as their best album since Holy Wood,[23] while Lina Lecaro of Consequence of Sound commented on Manson's recent stage injury: "Had the worst happened, Heaven Upside Down is the kind of career-defining record that [he] just might want to leave as his last great opus anyway."[88]

The record was lauded by numerous publications for being a solid and concise album, such as Classic Rock's sister publication Metal Hammer, who rated it 3.5 stars out of 5.[5] Singapore's The Straits Times awarded it the same score, dubbing it an 'album of the week' and describing it as an "exhilarating" record.[94] Greg Kennelty of Metal Injection praised the album's consistency as well, calling it "an impeccably well-written album that constantly introduces new styles and aspects to its sound throughout, all while revolving around a very disquieting core tonality."[95] Clash commended Manson for "never [being] afraid to take reference points from other genres", and said that Heaven Upside Down fused three distinct genres from the band's previous work, to "devastating effect"—Antichrist Superstar's industrial, Mechanical Animals' glam rock, and the blues of The Pale Emperor.[86] ABC News described it as an "interesting record, keeping much of the bluesy stomp of the last [album] but peppering it with his signature sense of volatility." They rated the album 3.5 stars out of 5, and praised Bates for enabling Manson to "return to his roots", which they described as him "playing overtly with taboos and openly baiting his critics."[96]

Critics also praised the quality of its lyrics. Mark Beaumont of Classic Rock called it the band's "most astute album in decades".[87] The London Evening Standard rated the album 3 stars out of 5 while saying: "American life is scary enough right now without Marilyn Manson sticking his oar in. Nevertheless, [Heaven Upside Down] may offer some useful catharsis for those who feel like screaming", although they noted the record "offers zero reasons to be cheerful."[97] In another 3-star review, The List similarly asked: "Is Marilyn Manson the first or the last person we need to hear in these troubled times? ... [What] better to clear the fog out of the air [than] some cathartic, take-no-shit, heads-down rock'n'roll which holds a shattered mirror up to the face of America?"[98] Alternative Press said the album was best enjoyed while listening "on headphones, where [Manson's] unadorned, chilling stalker-esque asides will make your bladder flex. ... At the end of the [record], all that's missing is the sound of the microphone dropping."[2]

The album has also received some mixed reviews. NME complained that it threaded too close to "familiar territory", and said most of the songs were "entertaining rather than groundbreaking."[90] Both Crack Magazine and PopMatters complimented the inclusion of punk elements, which the latter said helped songs match the "sheer intensity" of the band's earlier work, but were both critical of the lyrics.[3][4] A writer for Spin also criticized its violent lyrical content, particularly on "We Know Where You Fucking Live", in light of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.[99] Conversely, Pitchfork argued that the album's lyrical content was ineffective and "easily eclipsed [by] the open horror of the [real] world".[91] Drowned in Sound said that fans were "unlikely to see the power or the passion of Manson's classic run again – it's very difficult to bottle lightning twice ... That said, [Manson] seems to have settled after many years of free-fall. In Tyler Bates he has found a collaborator who knows how to get the best from his twisted mind. It's business as usual, but after a decade of disappointment, it's good to know business is doing well."[89] Similarly, The Arts Desk said the album was "not quite in the league of its surprise swamp-rockin' predecessor, but the best of it belts out of the traps with a pop-industrial panache that's unarguable."[100]

Year-end lists[edit]

Critic/Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
Loudwire 25 Best Hard Rock Albums of 2017 11 [101]

Commercial performance[edit]

Heaven Upside Down debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 with 35,000 album-equivalent units, 32,000 of which were pure album sales, making it the band's seventh consecutive top ten album on the chart.[102] Industry forecasters had predicted it was on course to debut in the top ten with sales of between 25,000 and 32,000 copies.[103] It also became the band's fourth consecutive number one album on Billboard's Top Hard Rock Albums,[104] and debuted at number two on both Top Rock Albums and Top Album Sales,[105][106] which acts as the current equivalent of the previous Billboard 200, before it was reconfigured to incorporate album-equivalent units. On its second week, the record dropped to number 84 on the Billboard 200.[107] In Canada, the album matched the peak of The Pale Emperor by debuting at number four.[108]

It was also predicted to enter the top ten of the UK Albums Chart,[109] making Heaven Upside Down the band's first top ten album in the country since Eat Me, Drink Me peaked at number eight a decade earlier.[110] It went on to peak at number seven there with first-week sales of 6,636 copies – their highest opening week figure since The High End of Low debuted with 7,746 copies in 2009 – and the band's highest-charting album in the country since The Golden Age of Grotesque peaked at number four in 2003.[111] In France, the record debuted at number 15 with first week sales of 4,745 copies.[112] Heaven Upside Down entered the ARIA Charts at number four, making it the band's sixth top ten album in the country, and their highest-charting since Mechanical Animals reached number one in 1998.[113] It also entered at number six on the Official New Zealand Music Chart, their fifth top ten studio album there.[114] On the Japanese Oricon chart, the album debuted at number 29 with first week sales of 1,805 copies[115]—exactly half the amount The Pale Emperor debuted with two years earlier.[116]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Marilyn Manson; all music composed by Tyler Bates.

1."Revelation #12"4:42
2."Tattooed in Reverse"4:24
3."We Know Where You Fucking Live" (stylized as "WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE")4:32
4."Say10" (stylized as "SAY10")4:18
5."Kill4Me" (stylized as "KILL4ME")3:59
7."Jesus Crisis" (stylized as "JE$U$ CRI$I$")3:59
8."Blood Honey"4:10
9."Heaven Upside Down"4:49
10."Threats of Romance"4:37
Total length:47:29


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Heaven Upside Down.[41]

Marilyn Manson

Additional musicians




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